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Painful dog.

Species: Dog
Breed: 1/2 Wirehaired Point
Age: 2-5 years
I apologize in advance for this being so long, but I want to give the history so you know what has been happening. I have a 2 year old female spayed dog who last May after staying in a kennel for a week when we were on vacation became sick when we picked her up. She was lethargic and she got worse the following 2 days she would no longer jump on the bed to sleep instead she would stay in the closet and stare and she would not eat or drink unless I put the bowl right up to her, like it hurt her to bend down. I took her to the vet and she had a fever so they gave her 3 weeks of amoxicillin and metronidazole. After a day or 2 she was normal like nothing was wrong. 4 days after the last does she was sick again, so we went back to the vet. They tested her for valley fever, tick disease and giardia. They were all negative, they sent her home with 3 weeks of doxycycline and a couple days later she was fine. This time she ended up sick again 5 Months after her last dose. She went back to the vet and they did blood work and her wbc were 27,000 fever of 104. Since she seems to have an issue with her back legs or back since she won't jump anymore when this hapens they did x-ray on the joints but they were fine except for hip dysplasia. They sent her home with 2 Months of zeniquin. 4 Days after finishing the last dose she got a rash on her belly and under her arms, they did a scraping and said it was staph, so they gave her 10 days of cephalexin and 2 weeks after last doese she got the illness again. This time they tested again for tick disease, auto-immune panel for lupus and toxoplasmosis. All were negative but the blood work showed elevated liver, elevated cholesterol, and elevated wbc again. Also low potasium. The vet said the results being what they are point to cushings so they did the urine test to rule it out, but it came back high at 58 so she said it is possibly cushings. She wants to do the acth stimulation test, but I am wondering if it is really possible that she has cushings, i have already spent $2000 and can't afford to keep spending money on things she cannot possibly have. I am confused since the antibiotics always make the symptoms go away. She is usually very high energy, she is a 1/2 German Wirehaied pointer and 1/2 Wirehaired Pointing Griffon so when this hapens it is sad since she does not have any energy and she also gets confused when she has an epoisode, she will whine like she needs to go out but when you go to let her out she just stands there and won't move like she does not know why she is whinning. And she sometimes will stand and just stare all stiff for a long time like she doesn't know what she is doing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Also when she was about a year old I was giving her the chicken jerkey treats and stopped when I realized they were from China and dogs were havihg issues, but I have no clue if this is something caused by those. Thanks


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, poor you and Bathsheba. It sounds like you have been through a lot! I hate cases like this where a dog is uncomfortable and we can't figure out why.

My first thought when I was reading what you wrote was for lyme disease. But if she has tested negative on a tick panel then this is not likely. Plus, the doxycycline really should have helped if this were the case.

I can't say I have ever seen Cushing's on a dog under 5 years of age, and what you have described really doesn't sound like Cushing's at all.

The rest of the things that I am thinking of would be difficult to diagnose. It's possible she has some sort of meningitis. Unfortunately a CSF tap would be necessary to diagnose this and that is quite pricey.

Perhaps there is an immune mediated arthritis? It sounds like she has pain. What you described with her reluctant to bend down to drink water sounds like neck pain. Joint taps could give us a diagnosis here, but this again could be pricey.

I had a similar case to yours a few years ago. It was a poodle who had extreme lethargy and bouts of pain and we did almost every test in the book and couldn't figure it out. I sent her to a specialist and they did muscle biopsies. Someone suggested a rare condition called Hepatozoon and we tested for that but it came back negative. Unfortunately we never did find the cause of this dog's problems and she was euthanized. Hopefully the story will be different for Bathsheba.

Can you tell me more about her liver enzymes? How high were they? If there were significant elevations then this could be worth investigating.

It really does sound like some kind of auto immune condition is possible, and there are some that are hard to test for. The problem here though is that the treatment for these conditions is to use immunosuppressive doses of steroids. But, if there is a bacterial infection present then, this could be harmful to her. We are in a tough place!

I wish I could give you more answers!

Dr. Marie.



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

I am not sure what the liver enzymes are just that having high liver enzymes, high cholesterol, and low potassium is a sign of cushings and that's why the Dr. wants to do the acth stimulation test. The Dr also tested for lupus and that was negative. The tests she ordered were IDEXX #2828 tick/vector -negative IDEXX #865 Senior Screen-Negative IDEXX Immune Panel- Negative and Toxoplasma Titer- Negative. One of the tests had the antinuclear antibodies test and was supposed to rule out immune mediated arthritis and i guess it did since they all came back negative. Then she did the urine test which was to rule out Cushings but instead came back at 58 which is a possibility of it, but Bathsheba has no symtoms that I can think of. I have read that low potassium can cause the back and legs to become sore and cause her to stop jumping because it's affacting her muscles. But I can't figure out why the anitbiotics make the symptoms go away and one time she didn't have any episodes for 5 Months after taking doxy. And there is also the fever and high white blood cells. I worry that taking so many antibiotics to keep the symptoms at bay will end up hurting her even more eventually. Is there any other bacterail infection we should test for to rule everything out to maybe try treating with steroids?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Your vet has been extremely thorough and must be as frustrated as you are at not finding a cause yet!

Unfortunately I don't have any further answers for you. If the antibiotics are helping then I have no qualms with continuing them for as long as your vet recommends. And yes, the steroid treatment is an option.

Again, I wish I could give you a more concrete answer!



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

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